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Toyota Prius Engine Problems

katiehardkatiehard Posts: 1
edited December 2013 in Toyota
My Sister has a 2003 Toyota Prius and when she goes to start the engine will roll over, but it won't start. My brother says it's the fuel pump, or something. Does anyone have any idea what it could be? And if so, how much will it cost, estimated with parts and labor? Thank you sooo much!


  • acjacj Posts: 3
    I am posting this on behalf of my Aunt, who actually has the car but it not at all computer literate so I told her I'd try to help....
    She has a 2006 Prius with about 6,000 miles on it and has started getting an intermittent error type message that says (as best as she can remember) "Trans axle will not charge batteries while in neutral" and the car will not start. The dealer is unable to replicate the error and suggests that it is "driver error"?
    Has anyone had this message or problem?
  • texvegastexvegas Posts: 17
    While cleaning the inside windshield I apparently hit the shift stick and when I tried to start the car, I got the same message. I turned off the power, got out of the car, got back in and it started as always. I think you get this message if you try to start the car in neutral.
  • john1701ajohn1701a Posts: 1,897
    Pressing the POWER button before the brake is fully depressed will cause a lock up where only neutral is available... hence seeing that message.

    Simply waiting until your foot has finished moving will prevent the problem.

    That little bit of patience makes a huge difference, and it is so subtle that most people don't even realize they have jumped the gun... until their awareness is heightened by having done that.

  • acjacj Posts: 3
    forgot to mention that she phoned Toyota to talk about this problem and they told her that the car was unsafe to drive until this was fixed? Based on what you guys have said so far it doesn't sound unsafe to me......
  • evanr1evanr1 Posts: 2
    Prius has locked up.
    Will not start.
    Dash has all items lights on.
    Will not return keyless entry key.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 31,179
    Welcome to the forum. What year is your Prius? Has this happened before?
  • evanr1evanr1 Posts: 2
    Prius is a 2005.
    Owned for 10 months.
    First time this has hapened.
    Main batries are GOOD, the starter batt. is dead.
  • Evanr1, pardon the questions, but how exactly did the Prius initially lock up? Also, how is that the "starter" battery is known to be dead but the main battery is known to be good? Generally, if the small 12-volt "starter" battery is dead, then you should get no dash lights and no interior lights. The 12-volt battery is used to "bootup" the computers, which in turn connects the high-voltage main battery to the car (it is isolated via relays when the car is off).

    It sounds like you ran the 12-volt battery down by accident, either by leaving a door open or an interior light. You should be able to "jump-start" the car to get it working again. The instructions on how to do so are in the manual. You do not have to crawl back into the back of the car to get at the actual 12-volt battery. There is a 12-volt positive terminal inside the main fuse box of the engine compartment specifically for this purpose. Positive goes to this post, negative goes to any unpainted engine part. The manual should indicate a prefered negative connection point to use for jumpstarting. After you make the connections, you should be able to hit the Start button to reboot the computers and hopefully get things working again.

    I'm curious as to how the keyless key managed to stay stuck in it's slot, and how the dash lights stayed on while the rest of the car appeared to be dead.
  • I have a Toyota Prius 2005 (which I love) - with 19,000 miles - which has had a "stalling" problem at take off - on three occasions. It happens like this:
    I'm stopped at a light. It turns green and I try to take off - but the Prius won't go faster than about 10 miles an hour - and a Yellow "car shaped" icon lit up (just below the temperature light). The last time I went about 1/2 block at 10 miles/hour - when it suddenly took off and accelerated normally - and the yellow light went off. It handled normally until I got home. We then called the Toyota dealer who said to bring it in. We didn't drive the vehicle until the time we took it in. The dealer service dept didn't find any problems - no "obd II codes" set in. They said that it was probably just the "traction control" kicking in (supposedly that was what the yellow "car" icon meant). They surmised that we had hit a patch of ice. I questioned the service manager for several minutes - telling him that there was no ice - I hadn't heard the brakes pulsing - and it went on for about 1 minute (an awfully long patch of ice). There were no codes retrievable.

    So - any ideas out there? I doubt that it was ice (we do live in Minnesota - but haven't seen that much ice). Was it a software glitch? (I've been a software designer/developer for 35 years and have caused more than my share of bugs). I have read in some of these forums about having to "reboot" - power cycle the vehicle to clear up similar problems. However, - it has cleared up spontaneously for me. Thanks in advance....
  • tjc005tjc005 Posts: 1
    I have a 92 Paseo with 84,000 miles. Once engine warms up, the car will stall out when car comes to idle speed. It always starts back up. I had car tuned up which helped for a very short time, but it is back to stalling out. It is my first car so I don't have alot of money to pay the mechanics to continue to guess at the problem. Maybe if I can throw some ideas their way it would help. Has anyone ever had these similar issues?
  • h_2b_ah_2b_a Posts: 1
    My girlfriend has a similar problem with her 2003 Toyota Prius. We're in Missouri and during winter and especially cold weather (usually when it is below freezing) the electric motor appears to be turning on, but the gas engine will not turn over. She's taken it to a dealer a few times, but they keep telling her that once they reset the computer the problem is fixed. However, once the temperature begins to drop again, the same thing happens.

    I was wondering if anyone is familar with any sensor or starter/battery problems that would prohibit the gas motor from turning over in cold weather.
  • green55green55 Posts: 2
    I just purchased a 2007 Prius and have previously used both synthetic oil and Slick 50 to increase gas mileage in American cars. Does anyone have any experience or suggestions as to the use of either of these in future Prius oil changes?
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    Owners report no improvement using Mobil 1 in the Prius. It may be because any improvement is too small to see - ie buried in the "noise" of random fuel economy changes.

    Slick 50 had to change their formulation and reports I've read say it no longer provides much benefit.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    My subject says it all... :shades:
  • I just bought an 05 tbird and I usually use Mobil 1 synth. oil in my vehicles. The owners manual calls for 5w-20. What weight of Mobil 1 should I use as I don't think it comes in 5w-20? Also, what is the best method or product for cleaning and protecting the convertible top. My top is a light blue or grey color.

  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    Snake oil, that sums up SLick 50. Never use additives in new engines, they are NOT needed. Using Mobil 1 has all the additives you will ever need. Slick willy sells SLick 50. Case in point, had a 79 LTD wagon, I rebuilt the engine myself, and used Castrol GTX 10W30 in it. I put 300,000 miles on that engine, never once using an additive in it, just plain Castrol GTX. The car gave out, then engine did not. I pulled the engine and put it in another car, in the process I had to swap the oil pan, so just for kicks, I popped the bearing caps and plastigauged the journals. They were still in specs, and clean. If you stick with the recommended 5K oil change and use a good filter and good oil, you will NEVER have the need to add anything to the oil, dont waste your money on slick willy 50.
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    Mobil 1 0-20 will work. THe low number is the cold value, the large number is the hot value. As long as you have the hot value where it is recommended you will be fine.
  • chetjchetj Posts: 324
    i used to use it but it is not API or ILSAC certified...mobil 1 is excellent oil and slick 50 would dilute it...i would use wal mart oil at 1.50 a qt (2.99 for syn, a great deal) over slick 50 anyday...wm oil is also GM 6094M approved, not all oil is...someone made a good point about oil companies spending God knows how many millions of dollars researching their products opposed to slick 50s budget...automakers dont reccomend it
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    "Back in the day" when slick 50 actually added Teflon, it did work wonders. I added it to a Subaru (the old push-rod flat four). Before adding I needed a wrench to turn the engine when adjusting the valves, after I could do it by hand. Slick 50 were forced to change their formula. I heard via the grapevine they were cut off from using Teflon. I tried it once after the change and it did nothing (to another vehicle).

    Just use Mobil 1, which is a good synthetic oil, or if you're really enthusiastic, try Royal Purple. I think it's the "better" type of synthetic. From reading several forums it appears use of synthetic will not result in measurable fuel economy increases in the Prius. Perhaps any improvement is buried in the "noise" of background variations. ;)
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    True, no increase for MPG will be seen with Mobil 1 in the Prius, and you really wont see any in any other car for that matter, this isnt the reason to use a synthetic. The true purpose of a syn is much better protection than any dino oil. Over time Dino breaks down in all factors, additive packaged, lubricity, holding suspension etc. Synthetics can last much longer in Lubricity and suspension, two key factors in the use of oil. Lubricity to keep the parts free moving, and suspension to carry the waste particle of combustion to the filter where it is removed. In addition, the additive packages last longer due to the properties of the synthetic blends. The additives help bind to the metal parts, adding to their life span. Zinc is one of them, ZInc is a babbit material on bearings, and having zinc in the oil helps deter from the wear(at least that was how it was explained to me in class, ASE Cert) that occurs. With Dino, the lubricity goes away after time, due to the compressions the molecules go through with each rev of the crank, Synthetics have more resistance to breaking down from compression. What Mobil 1 can do for the prius is extend the oil life from 5000 miles to 10000 miles with just a filter change at 5000 and topping off the oil. Some guys who have diesels have a bypass filtration system installed and change their oil every 15-25K miles with nothing my oil changes every 5K miles and topping off the oil. Big savings when you have 4 gallons of oil to change out, but not realy that much with the prius.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    Well, actually my 2001 Pathfinder has a 10% increase in fuel economy with Mobil 1. Perhaps it only shows up on larger less fuel efficient engines. The increase in fuel economy pays back the extra cost of the oil three times over in the 6000 km change intervals (stock recommended change intervals). I will not extend the change intervals.

    Don't get me started on the silly "fuel efficient" oils (5W30) the Pathfinder came with new. Warm engine, idling, I hear rumbling (oil film breakdown - crankshaft touches bearings). Never heard it again once I switched to 10W30 (proper viscosity) oil. Sometimes people think too hard.
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    There is a reason manufacturers are recommending the lighter weight oils these days. It helps them meet CARB specifications, that basically is the only reason. Engines have tighter tolerences today as well, so lighter oils work better in the newer engines, but is not needed. One thing to be aware of with Synthetics, dont use them in an old engine with 100K on it, or you might find yourself burning oil when you didnt before. Synthetics have tremendous cleaning powers, probably the reason you saw an increase in MPG. WHen you put this in an old engine, the carbon deposits behind the rings will dissolve, loosening the rings and giving them a larger gap, then you start to burn oil. Newer managed engines will less likely have this problem with lots of miles on them, but can still have similiar results, just depends on how well the engine was maintained and how it was driven.
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    I doubt it was carbon on the rings in the case of the Pathfinder. It was the third oil change from new (18,000 km). On the first oil change I went to Penzoil 10W30 (fixed the rumble when hot and idling - in fact I did the first change because of that 500 km early when I first noticed it). Used the same oil on the second. On the third went to Mobil 1 10W30 to see what all the fuss was about synthetic (this was back in 2001 - yeah, I'm slow to adopt "bandwagon" things) ;). Saw the 10% improvement, and it has remained at the improved fuel consumption rate ever since (I stuck to Mobil 1 10W30). I keep detailed records. ;)

    I've also seen (heard) the viscosity breakdown rumble on other vehicles using 5W30 oil (non-synthetic). Only when the engine is hot and idling. Scary stuff hearing the bearings loose material! With the other vehicles it happened a long way from home and I couldn't do anything about it right away except raise the idle. With the Pathfinder it happened in my garage, and I changed the oil right then!
  • acdiiacdii Posts: 753
    In your case, no, carbon build up is not an issue, the carbon issue is on older engines, especially pre fuel-injected engines. In your case though I bet it was a number of factors that showed your increased fuel economy, the first being you hit the magic mark where all the parts are working in harmony. The second being the better lubricity of the Mobil 1. Your tires may have also hit their mark where the wear patterns on them give them the least rolling resistance. Some happen right away, others take some time to wear in.
  • Mobil 1 0w-20 is what I use in my Ford. They want 5w-20, and this is an official substitute. Have been using Mobil 1 since '86 - no problemo.
    Never fold a wet soft top, don't leave it out in the intense sun ( Texas ), and do not use unapproved cleaners/detergents. Ford has a list of approved products.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "So - any ideas out there? I doubt that it was ice (we do live in Minnesota - but haven't seen that much ice). Was it a software glitch?"

    The early 2nd Gen had a software problem that sometimes caused people to be stranded. It was fixed, but maybe your model doesn't have the fix?

    I started a thread a couple of years ago for Prius Software errors; the thread is closed but you can still view it.
  • stevegoldstevegold Posts: 185
    I'm stuck in front of my house. All dash lights come on including the big red triangle and the car/lock icon but the ready light is not on and the car won't go.
    If I power off, the P,B,D,R cluster stays on, without the READY light, as does the big screen which displays "CAUTION - Transmission "P" lock mechanism is abnormal. Park in a flat place and apply brake."
  • pathstar1pathstar1 Posts: 1,015
    Sounds like the parking pawl is jammed. It it on a hill? If so, apply some force against the hill (push the car up the hill, apply parking brake) and try again.
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